Annals of Applied Biology (2017) 171, 103-116

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D. Moreau, F. Abiven, H. Busset, A. Matejicek and L. Pagès (2017)
Effects of species and soil-nitrogen availability on root system architecture traits – study on a set of weed and crop species
Annals of Applied Biology 171 (1), 103-116
Abstract: Better managing crop : weed competition in cropping systems while reducing both nitrogen and herbicide inputs is a real challenge that requires a better understanding of crop and weed root architecture in relation to soil-nitrogen availability. An original approach was used which considered the parameters of a simulation model of root architecture as traits to analyse (a) the interspecific diversity of root system architecture, and (b) its response to soil-nitrogen availability. Two greenhouse experiments were conducted using three crop and nine weed species grown at two contrasted concentrations of soil-nitrogen availability. Plant traits were measured to characterise both overall plant growth and root architecture, with a focus on primary root emergence, root elongation and branching. The studied root traits varied among species (from a twofold to a fourfold factor, depending on the trait), validating their use as indicators to analyse the interspecific variability of root architecture. The largest interspecies differences were for two traits: 'maximal apical root diameter' and 'interbranch distance' (distance between two successive laterals on the same root). Conversely, most of the studied root traits varied little with soil-nitrogen availability (from no variation to a 1.1-fold factor, depending on the trait) even though soil-nitrogen availability varied with a 17-fold factor and impacted the overall shoot and root biomass. So, the root traits used in this article are stable whatever soil-nitrogen availability. As they reflect processes underlying root system architecture, this low effect of nitrogen suggests that the rules governing root architecture are little affected by plant nitrogen status and soil-nitrogen availability. We propose that the determinants of differences in root system architecture between soils with contrasted nitrogen availability mainly originate from differences in the amount of carbon allocated to and within the root system. Characterising each plant species by a combination of root traits gave insights regarding the potential species competitive ability for soil resources in agroecosystems.
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Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
environment - cropping system/rotation

Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.
Echinochloa crus-galli (weed) France
Centaurea cyanus (weed) France
Alopecurus myosuroides (weed) France
Tripleurospermum inodorum (weed) France
Geranium molle (weed) France
Bromus hordeaceus (weed) France
Vulpia myuros (weed) France